Mobile Technology Is Changing Online Marketing for Roofing Companies

It seems like the Internet is changing every six months, doesn’t it? The moment you have a marketing strategy worked out, it is thrown into flux by another Google update or market trend.

Right now, that market trend is toward mobile technology. This shouldn’t come as a shock. In fact, I bet you’ve checked your phone since you started reading this article, and we’re only four sentences in!

Mobile technology has significantly changed the landscape of online marketing. More homeowners are using their mobile phones to search for roofing services than ever before. But between the rapid changes in homeowner behavior, the explosion of mobile devices and the intense local competition most roofing companies have, keeping up with the mobile world can seem daunting, if not impossible.

Fear not! We are going to tackle the five ways mobile technology is changing the residential roofing business, and discuss how each one is going to help you win more business from online homeowners.

1. MOBILE is no longer a millennial phenomenon. It was only a few years ago when we were shrugging off the mobile movement. Mobile obsession was primarily a thing for teens and twenty-somethings, right?

Not anymore. Since mobile devices have become more affordable and accessible, homeowners of all ages are turning to their phones when they have an urgent need, such as a repair or roofing emergency. In fact, that is the first device they turn to.

For homeowners over 50, mobile phones are the central device in their daily lives, and they are likely using them to make phone calls and submit web forms. And while home ownership among millennials is rising, a hefty number of leads tend to come from the 50-plus crowd. Adapting to mobile technology is going to help you drive leads across all demographics.

2. GOOGLE has welcomed mobile with open arms. Google tells us that more than half of the queries on their search engine now come from mobile, and it is only going to increase. As a result, they have revamped their pay-per-click (PPC) advertising to reflect the immediacy of mobile searches. Folks at the top, as they say, get the best fruit.

In PPC campaigns, roofing companies need to optimize for mobile. This requires more than checking the “Mobile” box in your ad campaign. You will want to use extensions that make it easier for homeowners to call from their mobile devices and determine how close you are to their location.

Simply stated: homeowners are making their roofing choices at the top of Google’s mobile search pages. To get to the top, you need to have mobile-optimized ads that appeal to mobile users. Being at the top of the page is one of those lead drivers that growing roofing companies cannot do without.

3. TAP-TO-CALL is exactly what homeowners are looking for. In the time-constrained world that we’re in, Google offers homeowners a number of specific roofing choices immediately. However, being at the top of the page means nothing if a person can’t get in touch with you.

Homeowners with roofing needs want to resolve the issue as soon as possible. That’s why it’s important to have a tap-to-call option on your website pages and ads. But, that is only half the battle.

In home improvement, excellent phone work is still necessary. There is nothing more frustrating to homeowners than going to a roofing contractor’s website, liking what they see, dialing the number … and then getting no answer. Or a long hold time. Or going straight to voicemail. Or not getting a prompt call back.

All of these non-responses drive the homeowner to do the same thing: call your competitor.

Mobile has made it easier than ever to go down a list, contacting company after company until they get a response. Roofing companies that want to grow and scale need to have tap-to-call options and strong phone practices to make the most of their mobile presence.

4. RESPONSIVE WEBSITES are more than the future—they’re the industry standard. Mobile is now a fact of life for roofing companies. And if your company’s website requires customers to zoom in on teeny tiny letters, they’re going to get frustrated and move on.

At the very least, every company needs to have a responsive website that accommodates all sizes and models of mobile phones. Responsive sites are Google-friendly and they display in ways that are easiest for homeowners to navigate and understand.

If you’re not sure if your website is responsive, try to access the URL on your mobile phone. Can you see the words at a glance? Do you have to slide around to find a phone number? If so, you probably need to upgrade to a responsive design.

Having a responsive website boosts your site’s usability, making it more likely that you’ll be there when a homeowner searches for roof replacement. Plus, customers in the 50-plus bracket will sincerely appreciate text that is easy to read.

5. MOBILE WEB FORMS are your key to connection, so get it right. Homeowners are embracing web forms in greater and greater numbers. And it’s easy to see why. With busy routines and packed schedules, many homeowners simply have limited time to solve their roofing issues. A web form shows the homeowner how responsive you are and how much you value their inquiry.

That is why more and more roofing businesses are turning to online appointment scheduling in their web forms. Letting the homeowner select an appointment time has a number of benefits. First, homeowners who can schedule their own appointments are far more likely to complete a web form. Second, it gives you a competitive advantage over other forms that do not offer scheduling. It’s simply more convenient and gives the homeowners a greater feeling of control.

Also, self-schedulers are much less likely to become no-shows. As we all know, no-shows are frustrating, costly and a big headache. Letting the homeowner commit to a time that works also shows that your easy to work with and responsive to their needs.

Lastly, web forms are a big hit with Millennials. The 35 and under crowd loves to schedule everything online— haircuts, spin classes, restaurant reservations, vacations, hotel stays. You name it, they are reserving it online. This, too, is becoming an ingrained behavior among the next generation of homeowners, so optimizing your web forms is going to become even more important in the years to come.

Dominate the Mobile Market

Many roofing companies are frustrated with the online world. Roofing is already a very local business, which makes it challenging to grow and expand. By embracing the mobile world, roofing companies can stand out and beat the competition. And for roofers looking for replacement leads, it’s 100 percent worth the time and expense to do it right.

While the mobile world is complex and somewhat confusing, so is the rest of running a business. And I’m guessing your company is already doing that well. If you embrace these mobile trends, you’ll learn how to master them and drive more leads–and more business–to your company.

Roof Restoration Project Keeps Rehab Facility Operating

Skyline Roof Restoration

Bill Steeves (left) and Steve Broda launched Skyline Roof Restoration, a company that specializes in restoring roofs with coatings.

Rehabilitation facilities help their patients stay healthy. Keeping roofs healthy is another matter.

When the roof at a rehabilitation center in Colorado was reaching the end of its service life, roofing contractor Bill Steeves recognized it was the perfect candidate for roof restoration project. Steeves is the president of Skyline Roof Restoration Inc., based in Frederick, Colo. The company specializes in roof coatings. It was launched last year by Steeves and his partner, Steve Broda. Broda is the founder of Skyline Roofing Inc., a full-service commercial roof contracting firm, also located in Frederick, where both men have worked since 2006.

“We formed Skyline Roof Restoration as a vehicle to promote restoring roofs with coatings,” Steeves says. “We have both been involved with various coating projects in the past and wanted to offer our expertise to clients where restoration is their most prudent option.”

In the Denver area, the coatings market is booming in part due to changes in local energy codes, notes Broda. Several municipalities have mandated with that a roof tear-off and replacement, the R-values in the roof have to be brought up to those for new construction. “It was becoming unaffordable for some people to do total roof replacement and upgrade to R-30 or R-38,” Broda says. “We needed another tool to provide them with a roofing option that was economical and did not force them to add the extra R-value to their roof systems.”

In many cases, coating an existing membrane roof can be an excellent option. “It can save the customers a lot of money compared to a roof replacement, and depending on the system and the thickness, we can offer a 20-year NDL warranty,” Broda notes.

Skyline Roof Restoration

The Centre Avenue Health & Rehab project encompassed 21,863 square feet of low-slope roof on 10 separate roof levels. The low-slope sections were surrounded by a standing seam metal roof.

According to Steeves and Broda, the key to the success of a roof restoration is making sure the underlying substrate is a good candidate for the coating. Skyline Roof Restoration will only authorize a coating project if it is the best option for the facility. “Steve and I have a combined 77 years of experience in commercial roofing, and there are very few scenarios we have not run across,” Steeves says. “We have both built very strong commercial companies based on return customers and referrals. We both really care about the final product, value to our customers, and the relationships we have developed over the years.”

The Diagnosis

Steeves had a hunch that the roof at the Centre Avenue Health & Rehab facility in Fort Collins might be reaching the end of its life span. “We have been doing all of the roofing work for Columbine Health Systems, the owner of Centre Avenue Health & Rehab, for more than seven years and have developed a great working relationship with the owner,” he says. “We had never been called to Centre Avenue for any leaks, but I knew the building was about 18 years old.”

This aerial photo shows the Centre Avenue Heath & Rehab roof after the restoration process was completed.

This aerial photo shows the Centre Avenue Heath & Rehab roof after the restoration process was completed.

Steeves suggested it was time to conduct a roof inspection at Centre Avenue but was told to wait. Sure enough, the next time it rained, a leak was detected. When Steeves met his repair crew on the site, he noticed that the fully adhered EPDM roof system on the flat roof sections was just beginning to exhibit signs of oxidation. A few stress fractures were visible in the membrane. “It was a perfect candidate for a roof restoration,” he says.

In a meeting with the owner, Steeves suggested the application of a high-solids silicone restoration system from GE Momentive. “I explained that the restoration process would, in effect, freeze the aging process of the EPDM by protecting it from further UV degradation,” Steeves says. “I had also, prior to our meeting, completed some research and found out that the local power company was offering a rebate for any Energy Star-qualified roof covering, which further reduced his total capital outlay.”

When Steeves detailed the costs involved with the coating project as opposed to a tear-off and replacement, the owner gave him the go ahead on the roof restoration plan and opted for a 15-year NDL warranty.

Broda and Steeves note that there are cases in which the existing roof is too far degraded to work well with a coating, and in those cases, the only viable option is a roof replacement. The silicone coating can be used on membranes including EPDM, TPO, PVC, modified bitumen and smooth built-up roofs, as well as metal. “It works with all types of membranes, but you have to catch these roofs before the end of their serviceable life,” says Broda. “They have to have some life left in them to coat them. If we are not comfortable putting a coating on a roof, we won’t do it.”

Often all that is needed is minor repair of wall flashings, curb flashings and penetrations. Wet insulation is another problem to look out for. “We’ll do an infrared scan of the roof before we coat it to make sure we don’t have any wet insulation in there.”

Every proposal is also contingent on a successful adhesion test. A sample area is set up and a pullout test is conducted to determine if the product will adhere well.

Photos: Skyline Roof Restoration Inc.

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Work Experience Is A Factor in Leadership Development and Diversity

Corporate values. Leader behaviors. Diversity and inclusion training. Hiring goals. High-potential training programs. Affinity groups. Mentoring. While these are all important practices for developing leaders and increasing gender diversity, they are not a substitute for one of the most important, but frequently overlooked, contributors to leader development and leadership diversity—ensuring that women in the pipeline are assigned to the high-impact, highly visible, challenging roles and project assignments that will prepare them for executive management.

EXPERIENCE-DRIVEN DEVELOPMENT

The Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) points to experience as a critical factor in executive development. In the introductory chapter to Using Experience to Develop Leadership Talent, the book’s editors, Cynthia McCauley and Morgan McCall, define “experience-driven development” as “identifying people with potential, giving them challenging assignments, and holding them accountable for both results and growth.”

CCL has devoted an online publication exclusively to the subject titled Experience Driven Development. The organization states that despite being the most important element of the learning process, experience-driven development often gets scant attention in the workplace: “Individuals broaden and deepen their leadership capabilities as they do leadership work. In fact, there are good reasons to believe that learning from experience is the number one way that leader development happens. Yet this number one driver of learning gets the least attention in our leader development systems.”

Experience-driven development reflects the familiar CCL 70-20-10 framework for leader development stemming from the original Lessons of Experience research of the late 1980s. This model states that roughly 70 percent of development can be attributed to challenging on-the-job experiences; 20 percent to mentoring and other developmental relationships; and 10 percent to formal coursework.

The challenging job experiences can include such assignments as:

  • Starting something from scratch.
  • Turning around a failing or struggling business unit or initiative.
  • Special high-visibility projects.
  • Roles reflecting increases in scope and scale.
  • International assignments.

Ann Morrison, co-author of The Lessons of Experience and author of The New Leaders: Guidelines on Leadership Diversity in America, states that “such assignments involve autonomy, visibility, access to senior management, and control over considerable resources.”

She continues, “They are often used as tests and rewards for the people judged to have high potential; they constitute the ‘fast track’ in many organizations.”

Morrison stresses that to be effective, these developmental challenges need to be balanced by recognition (including pay, promotion, autonomy, resources, and respect) and support. She notes that organizations need to be aware of additional sources of challenges experienced by diverse leaders (for example, unconscious bias, higher performance standards, and family issues).

The sample in the original Lessons of Experience research, upon which the 7020-10 model is based, was made up almost exclusively of white males. Followup CCL research concluded that men had access to a greater variety of challenging job experiences than women.

THE CATALYST RESEARCH ON HIGH-POTENTIAL EMPLOYEES

Recently the Catalyst Organization has undertaken a global longitudinal study of 1,700 post-MBA high-potential employees in companies such as General Motors, IBM, Ernst & Young, McDonalds and UPS. In the research summary entitled “Good Intentions, Imperfect Executions? Women Get Fewer of the ‘Hot Jobs’ Needed to Advance,” authors Christine Silva, Nancy Carter and Anna Beninger refer to the critical job assignments for development and advancement as “hot jobs.” They conclude: “Highly visible projects, mission-critical roles, and international experiences are hallmarks of ‘hot jobs.’ They predict advancement, yet our findings show that women get fewer of these hot jobs than men.”

The authors point out that most global companies have embraced the cause of gender diversity and virtually all of them have established formal leadership development courses. “Despite these efforts, women remain under-represented at senior levels, indicating that these programs may not be paying off equally for women and men,” they note. “And past Catalyst research shows there is typically little accountability in place to ensure women’s equal access to development opportunities.”

The Catalyst study explored three of the most potent sources of experience-driven development: project leadership, challenging roles and international assignments. The results show that women lag behind men with similar education and organizational tenure in terms of their access to fasttrack development opportunities. The study found the projects that men worked on typically had budgets twice the size of the women’s projects, and the men’s projects had three times as many employees assigned to them.

SHARED ACCOUNTABILITY FOR DEVELOPING LEADERSHIP DIVERSITY

So, if high-potential, post-MBA women are getting fewer of the high-visibility and high-impact roles that are essential for their development and for increasing gender diversity in the executive ranks, who is accountable for changing the status quo?

According to experts at CCL, experience-driven development should be viewed as a shared responsibility involving the CEO and senior leaders, human resource executives, the immediate manager, and the individual employee. In their conclusion to Using Experience to Develop Leadership Talent, editors Cynthia McCauley and Morgan McCall comment on the critical role of the CEO: “The potential contribution of the CEO cannot be overstated. We’ve seen how important the chief executive is in making leader development a fundamental part of the business strategy, in modeling expected behavior in developing others, and in holding managers accountable for the development of their people.”

McCauley and McCall point out that senior leaders have development accountabilities similar to those of the CEO and must also “make sure that the boundaries among their parts of the business can be crossed for developmental as well as business reasons.” The authors point to immediate managers as an important focus, as they are the gatekeepers to challenging work assignments and often play a role in identifying high-potential talent.

Finally, they comment on the individual’s role in their own career development: “Ultimately, individuals are responsible for those aspects of development they can influence, most immediately taking developmental opportunities when they arise and proactively seeking them when they don’t, being open to learning from these opportunities, and taking actions (such as seeking out feedback and building in accountability) that increase the likelihood of learning.”

KEY QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER

Experience-driven development. Hot jobs. Fast track. To increase leadership diversity, it is critical that the résumés of women reflect a variety of challenging, visible, high-risk, high-impact roles in preparation for top management positions.

The research project by the Catalyst Organization echoes early research at the Center for Creative Leadership and concludes that post-MBA, high-potential men are more likely than their female counterparts to be assigned to larger, more visible projects. The men are more likely than high-potential women to have profit and loss responsibility, as well as supervisory responsibility. Significantly more men than women are selected for international assignments.

The questions below may stimulate your thinking about leadership diversity and professional development in your organization:

  • Are you placing women in high-visibility, high-impact positions?
  • What role does “unconscious bias” play in the development of high-potential women?
  • Are women required to demonstrate greater readiness for a challenging role than their male counterparts?
  • Do your organization’s diversity metrics reflect experience-driven development?
  • What role will you play in bringing about needed change?

Three Types of Contracts Offer Different Benefits and Risks

For the first time in years, construction material costs are rising. In March, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported numbers showing a 4.8 percent rise in material prices between February 2016 and February 2017.

For contractors who have been working on long-term projects, the price increases could mean lower profit margins, or even losses, as they complete their work. Contractors who are in the estimating, bidding, and contract negotiation stages for new projects will want to ensure profitability and manage risk where possible. In particular, selecting the best pricing system for a project and properly drafting the contract to reflect it is essential, especially during periods of material cost increases.

Three prevalent pricing mechanisms are fixed-price contracts, cost-plus contracts, and guaranteed maximum price contracts. Here’s the lowdown on each type and the benefits and risks with respect to cost changes.

FIXED-PRICE CONTRACTS

Fixed-price or lump-sum contracts are contracts where the parties, sometimes through extensive negotiation, agree upon a fixed sum for the labor and materials to be furnished. Typically, the contractor will prepare a schedule of values where portions of the work correspond with a certain percentage of completion, and pay applications are submitted for the appropriate percentages (often, minus an agreed-upon amount of retention). If the parties want to change the scope of work, a signed change order will be required, and the parties must negotiate and agree upon the change order pricing before signed.

Fixed-price contracts offer contractors limited protection—and in some cases, no protection—in the event of material price increases. Indeed, “the normal risk of a fixed-price contract is that the market price for subject goods or services will change.” (See Seaboard Lumber Co. v. U.S., a 2002 Federal Circuit Court opinion.) Many contracts contain force majeure provisions that excuse or absolve parties from performing their contractual duties in the event of unforeseeable circumstances that are beyond their control and that make performance impossible or commercially impracticable. Examples of such events include “acts of God” like floods, tornadoes, and earthquakes, as well as events such as riots, terrorist attacks, and labor strikes. However, force majeure clauses can be difficult to enforce, and most courts, like the Federal Circuit in Seaboard, view cost changes as a normal, foreseeable risk and not an event that will excuse contractors from further performance. Therefore, when negotiating a fixed price, contractors generally should plan to be held to that price.

However, properly drafted fixed-price contracts can give contractors options to mitigate potential losses arising from cost increases. One strategy is drafting the contract to read that the fixed price is based upon material prices as of the date of signing and that significant increases in material prices will or shall (not “may”) entitle the contractor to an equitable adjustment of the contract price through a signed change order.

Contractors should also be entitled to adjust the contract price or time of completion to account for other problems—like delays, material shortages, or other difficulties acquiring materials—that can occur when costs increase. Such provisions will have better chances of being enforced if the contract specifically defines what constitutes a “significant” percentage increase in price. Additionally, contracts should include provisions protecting contractors from liability associated with delays and shortages. Some fixed-price contracts also provide that in the event the parties cannot agree on a price for change orders, the change order work shall be paid for on a time-and-materials basis including overhead and profit. If contractors are unable to negotiate an equitable adjustment provision, a time-and-material measure for change orders can provide some protection.

COST-PLUS CONTRACTS

For contractors, while the above revisions to fixed-price contracts may be helpful, cost-plus contracts will provide the maximum protection against material cost increases. Cost-plus contracts—also known as time-and-material agreements—are agreements whereby contractors bill for the cost of the labor and materials, plus a fee that is either a percentage of the project costs or an agreed-upon flat fee. When invoicing, contractors include documentation of their payment to subcontractors, vendors, and material suppliers to provide proof of the cost. They then invoice for the cost plus the agreed-upon percentage of the cost.

Unlike fixed-price agreements, cost-plus agreements place the risk of cost overages and increases on the owner. If the contractor’s fee is a percentage of the labor and material costs, these arrangements also create potential for contractors to benefit from cost increases. However, they eliminate the need to negotiate a fixed price, they make change orders much simpler to implement, and in periods of cost decreases, they can benefit owners.

GUARANTEED MAXIMUM PRICE CONTRACTS

While some owners will be wary of cost-plus agreements—especially when material prices are on the rise—guaranteed maximum price (GMP) contracts may serve as a compromise that could help both contractors and owners mitigate risk. GMP contracts are a modified cost-plus option in that they function like cost-plus agreements—contractors invoice for the labor and material costs, plus their fee—but the contracts establish a maximum price for the entire project. Contractors invoice in the same manner they would for a cost-plus agreement, but once the owner has paid the maximum agreed-upon amount, the remaining costs are the contractor’s to bear.

Often, parties to GMP contracts also agree that if the sum of the cost of work and the contractor’s fee total less than the guaranteed maximum price, the difference in the cost and the agreed-upon maximum fee reverts to the owner or is split between the two parties. This makes some owners more amenable to these agreements than they would be to traditional cost-plus agreements, which can make project costs very unpredictable.

Whether parties decide that a fixed-price or cost-plus agreement is best for their needs, they should take care to draft the price terms clearly in order to avoid ambiguity and confusion. Generally, courts enforce contracts as written if they are clear and unambiguous, but if an ambiguity exists, courts will must look to extrinsic evidence to determine what the parties intended, leaving the fate of the dispute to a jury or fact finder. For example, in Rosa v. Long (a 2004 N.C. Court of Appeals opinion), a homeowner and contractor entered into a contract stating that the contractor would build a turnkey dwelling for the “sum of $193,662.60” but later stating that contractor would receive a commission in the amount of 10 percent of all materials, subcontracts, and labor obtained and expended by the contractor. Because these terms suggested that the contract was both fixed-price and cost-plus, a jury decided what the parties intended instead of a judge enforcing the terms as drafted. Clear, proper drafting is essential to increasing the parties’ chances of a predictable outcome in the event of a dispute.

Social Media Marketing Requires Strategy

Social media Social media is one of the most effective avenues for marketing your business, no matter what industry you are in. It is low to no cost and provides a business with connection to a wide range of prospects, referral partners, and clients.

One thing to embrace about social media marketing is that the best campaigns are informational; sharing information and knowledge works really well with social media. You are positioning your company as the experts in the field. That’s how you build trust. So, when you are thinking about creating a strategy, think about what you know that you can share.

Start with what you are hoping to accomplish. All marketing should have a goal. What do you want people to do? Social media does not respond well to “buy now” types of marketing campaigns. However, you have a great opportunity to create awareness and action that connects you to your buyer.

So, what do you want people to do? Call or visit your business? Clip a coupon? Watch a video? Attend an event? Be very clear and specific about what you want this particular campaign to accomplish. You will have a chance to implement other campaigns in the future. It’s important to realize that marketing is the kind of thing that changes over time. As your goals change, your marketing will change with it. So, don’t get caught up thinking that you have to have one sensational marketing campaign. Sensational would be great! However, you will want to create and implement marketing campaigns over time. So, focus on the goal at hand.

Now that you know what you want people to do, ask yourself this key question: which people? What does your target audience look like? And please don’t think it’s everyone, or everyone with a roof! It isn’t. Your best clients have things in common. Create the outline of that great client so you know who you are speaking to. Knowing who you are targeting is instrumental in creating your marketing strategy. You probably have a couple of target audiences. You aren’t going to message to all of them in the same way or the same places. For example, if one of your target audiences is over 80 years old, social media marketing may not be the way to go. Traditional marketing is probably more effective with them. If a target market is women in their 40s or 50s, Facebook is ideal.

When your message is broad because you trying to hit everyone, you hit no one. Your message should be specific and should be directed at a clear target audience. This is how they will hear it. Remember that you can implement other marketing campaigns to reach out to other audiences. Stay away from trying to hit all of them at once. That’s a message that will be so big no one will hear it and you won’t accomplish your goal.

Once you know what you want to say, and who you want to say it to, you have to decide where you should be communicating. This is a critical part of social media marketing success.

There is a danger of getting caught up in trying to do what the business next door is doing. Or what someone tells you to do. However, that’s not necessarily the best thing for your business! You want to be where your target audience is going to hear your message.

For example, if you are selling to consumers you probably want to have a Facebook business page. That’s a great place to connect with consumers who need your product or service. It isn’t necessarily so great if you sell business to business.

There are a lot of places online that you can post. Ask yourself where your target is. And how do they consume information?

Let’s explore some options that you might not be thinking about but have impact:

Video. Using video in your social media marketing can have an incredible impact. Video gives you the chance to demonstrate your product, or a how-to on the job site. It also gives your audience a chance to see you. Don’t underestimate how powerful this can be.

People buy from people they trust. One of the best ways to build trust is to talk to people directly. Video gives you this opportunity.

You can post your videos on YouTube and/or Vimeo. Then you can share them on other platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter. You can also use video in blog posts and email marketing.

Guest Blogging. If there are blogs out there that you follow, start commenting on the posts. Once you’ve developed a relationship with the blog owner, ask if you can provide a guest article. That can get you in front of their audience, which can elevate your credibility and exposure.

Podcasts. There are a lot of podcasts that seek guests to share expertise. Do some research to find the ones that make sense for your business. Then reach out to the host. Remember that this is not a commercial for your business. You share your expertise around some aspect of your industry. You then have a link you can share through your social media platforms. Being a guest on a podcast can increase your credibility.

Email marketing. Often overlooked, email marketing is one of the most effective marketing methods available today. Not only does it allow you to stay connected to your audience, but you can now connect your marketing email to your social profiles. This expands the reach of the email.

If you are new to social media marketing pick ONE avenue and get used to it. Consistency is critical to social media marketing success, so don’t overdo it right out of the gate. Give yourself the chance to get used to the process and to build steam. You can always add to your strategy as you move forward.

Think about where your target audience is going to hear your message, determine what you want them to know and do, and then decide how you want to connect with them. Social media marketing is really about connecting and building trust. That’s why it’s social marketing. As you build awareness around your company you will find that your marketing momentum will build. Your company will become a household name and people will share your information with their networks. The spider web of the Internet will expand your efforts and you will realize a significant impact to your business growth.

HBI Helps Students Build Construction Careers

HBI’s training process features a unique, hands-on approach that combines technical and employability skills with core academics.

HBI’s training process features a unique, hands-on approach that combines technical and employability skills with core academics.

Washington, D.C.-based HBI, a national leader for career training in the building industry, is dedicated to the advancement and enrichment of education and training programs serving the needs of the industry. Through certification programs, HBI provides training, curriculum development and job-placement services for the building industry. Job-placement rates have remained at more than 80 percent for graduates during the last several years.

For nearly 50 years, HBI and its forerunner, the Manpower Development & Training Department of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), Washington, have trained workers in construction, promoted the building industry as a career and helped address the need for qualified employees. Today, HBI is an independent, national non-profit organization and partner in the NAHB federation. HBI’s relationships with local home-builders associations have helped create opportunities for students.

HBI training programs are taught in local communities across the country to at-risk youth, veterans, transitioning military members, justice-involved youth and adults, and displaced workers. Preparing students for success in the building industry is at the core of what HBI does across the country. At any given time during the year, HBI touches more than 13,000 students through its programs.

HBI’s training process, products and services are instrumental in the success of its programs, including Job Corps, Pre-Apprenticeship Certificate Training, Military and Veterans, and Building Careers Programs. Through each program, individuals are trained and ready to pursue careers in the building industry.

“We want our students to know what it’s like to be in this business,” says HBI President and CEO John Courson. “You can’t learn this business by only studying on a computer, from a textbook or in a classroom. They have to get out in the field and experience what it’s like to perform trades in all kinds of weather. I want the last day of training for our students to be just like the first day on a new job.”

A Unique Program

HBI’s Five Steps of Service model focuses on connecting, assessing, certifying, training and placing individuals in high-growth construction careers. The model is a soup-to-nuts process that offers students job readiness, certified training, career connections, hope, confidence and long-term success. HBI’s five steps support students at every stage of the employment continuum. Students are trained and certified in brick masonry, building construction technology, carpentry, electrical wiring, heating, ventilation and air conditioning, landscaping, plumbing, solar installation or weatherization.

HBI students can earn several industry-recognized credentials and put their skills into practice with contractors on community service projects.

HBI students can earn several industry-recognized credentials and put their skills into practice with contractors on community service projects.

Unique to the industry, HBI’s training process uses a hands-on approach that combines technical and employability skills with core academics; students work and learn how to be successful in the industry. Students’ trade skills are put into practice with contractors on community service projects. Students can earn several industry-recognized credentials, including an HBI Pre-Apprentice Certificate, OSHA 10-Hour Safety Training, CPR, First Aid and a National Occupational Testing Institute trade-specific certificate.

HBI training programs do more than just provide job skills. They build character and self-esteem, offering students the interpersonal skills they also need to succeed. Students learn leadership, a sense of responsibility, time management, team work and how to communicate effectively.

“As we work to build careers and change lives among the populations we serve, we want to be sure that our students are ready in every way to be successful at every step of the process,” Courson explains.

HBI’s Five Steps of Service integrates structured education and training with the world of work, including career exploration, job exposure and internships that lead to full-time employment. Each year, HBI recognizes top former students who have graduated from an HBI program and have achieved success in the building industry despite adversity they have encountered through their journey. HBI instructors from across the country nominate former students and the top two are selected.

Dawit Zengo of Alexandria, Va., and Kristy Stringer of Way Cross, Ga., were recognized for their leadership qualities, achievements and potential in the building industry at the 2017 NAHB International Builders’ Show in Orlando, Fla.

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Get Involved as the Alliance Celebrates 20 Years of Elevating the Roofing Industry

As it celebrates its 20th anniversary, the Roofing Industry Alliance for Progress remains steadfast in its mission. Its goals include supporting high-quality education programs, ensuring forward-thinking responses to major economic and technological issues, and enhancing the long-term viability and attractiveness of the roofing industry to current and future workers.

As it celebrates its 20th anniversary, the Roofing Industry Alliance for Progress remains steadfast in its mission. Its goals include supporting high-quality education programs, ensuring forward-thinking responses to major economic and technological issues, and enhancing the long-term viability and attractiveness of the roofing industry to current and future workers.

“If you are working on something exciting that you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed. The vision pulls you.” This simple statement by Steve Jobs reflects the sentiments of The Roofing Industry Alliance for Progress’ diverse and dedicated forum of members, who have united to carry out the Alliance’s vision to influence, shape and advance the future of the U.S. roofing industry.

At 157 members strong, including 10 new members within the last year, the Rosemont, Ill.-based Alliance is in a unique position to unite roofing contractors, material manufacturers, distributors, service providers and industry professionals. To date, the group has committed more than $12.4 million to its endowment fund to help preserve and enhance the U.S. roofing industry’s success and performance.

As it celebrates its 20th anniversary, the Alliance remains steadfast in its mission and vision to serve as a valuable, effective and influential organization focused on three primary objectives:
1. Supporting high-quality education programs.
2. Ensuring timely and forward-thinking industry responses to major economic and technological issues.
3. Enhancing the long-term viability and attractiveness of the roofing industry to current and future workers.

PARTNERING WITH SCHOOLS

With a keen focus on enhancing college students’ experiences by exposing them academically and experientially to roofing as a career choice, the Alliance Board of Trustees approved ongoing project funding to continue advancing educational initiatives with three of the most well-known construction management schools in the United States: the Department of Construction Management at Colorado State University, Fort Collins; McWhorter School of Building Science at Auburn University, Auburn, Ala.; and M.E. Rinker Sr. School of Construction Management at the University of Florida, Gainesville.

The Alliance is focused on fostering its relationships with construction management schools by developing a faculty research program that includes identifying topics of interest and direct benefit to the roofing industry, as well as a systematic approach for connecting member companies with construction management schools nationwide.

“When a school needs a roofing expert to meet with students either in the classroom or on a job site, we want the Alliance to serve as that resource,” says Dennis Conway, NRCA chairman of the board and principal and vice president of Commercial Roofers Inc., Las Vegas. “Talking with students one-on-one about roofing fundamentals and career opportunities, in addition to exposing them to all the different roofing products, materials and systems, is invaluable.”

Former Alliance President Jim MacKimm, president of Beacon Roofing Supply, Peabody, Mass., says such partnerships are invaluable. “These partnerships are crucial for the roofing industry,” he says. “We know we need to do a much better job telling students about career opportunities in roofing and making sure they understand the importance of roofing even if they pursue other construction-related careers.”

During the International Roofing Expo in March, the Alliance also sponsored its third Construction Management Student Competition, a hallmark competition to promote careers in roofing industry management. In addition to providing a significant learning opportunity, the six-team competition fostered camaraderie, dialogue and team spirit among the students as they met the challenges of demonstrating their roofing knowledge of estimating, project management, safety and related areas for the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Teams represented were from the McWhorter School of Building Science at Auburn University; Department of Construction Management at Colorado State University; Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge; Tuskegee University, Tuskegee, Ala.; University of Cincinnati; and the M.E. Rinker Sr. School of Construction Management at the University of Florida.

“As technology advances, government regulation grows, sustainability increases in importance and roof systems become more complex, it is imperative for us to attract professional, knowledgeable students to the roofing industry,” says Suzan Boyd, vice president of Academy Roofing, Colorado Springs, Colo. “The exposure our industry receives through our construction management school partnerships is invaluable because the future of our workforce is at stake.”

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Roof Rot: Ignorance Is an Easy Way to Damage Low-slope Residential Roofs

Change often brings with it unintended consequences, and the issue of reflective roof surfaces in North America is no exception. In the late 1990s, U.S. cities in northern climates started to mandate the use of reflective roof—more for politics, feel-good, pseudo-environmental reasons than sustainable, resilient and durable reasons. In my estimation, cool roofs often did more to lower the quality of buildings than enhance them. Furthermore, code and standard changes were made with no understanding of the result and no education to the architects of America.

Figure 1: Reduced attic space resulted in a roof section comprised of the following components from the interior to the roof cover.

Figure 1: Reduced attic space resulted in a roof section comprised of the following components from the interior to the roof cover.

Although the resulting unintended consequences affected commercial and residential buildings, it was the often-catastrophic results on low-slope residential buildings that went untold and left homeowners with tens of thousands of dollars of corrective work on basically new residences.

Following is a summary of how these concerns evolved in wood-framed residential construction. I’ve included case studies of failures, potential solutions and lessons learned.

HISTORY

During the industrialization of America’s large cities throughout the 1800s, the need for labor caused populations to explode. To house the labor migration, row houses (3- to 4-story structures, often with a garden level and four or more narrow units) were constructed approximately 3-feet apart, block after block, creating medium-sized apartment blocks. Most of these row houses were wood-framed, masonry veneer with low-slope roof structures. The interior walls and ceilings were finished in cementitious plaster, which provided a durable, fire-resistive finish. The plaster also performed as an effective air and vapor barrier, preventing interior conditioned air from penetrating into the non-insulated walls and ceilings where it could condense within the walls and roof on cold days.

Photo 1: A contractor was called out to fix the “soft roof” and found this catastrophic situation.

Photo 1: A contractor was called out to fix the “soft roof” and found this catastrophic situation.

Heating costs were low, so little—if any—insulation was installed in the walls and roof. Roofs were composed of built-up asphalt and coal tar, both smooth and aggregate surfaced. Attic spaces often 4 to 6 feet in height were vented via static vents. Any conditioned air that passed to the attic was able to dissipate through these static vents. This method of construction performed without significant attic condensation, and the roof systems and roof structure served these buildings for decades.

In the mid 1990s, researchers (theoretical researchers with no architectural, engineering, roofing, construction or practical building technology experience or knowledge) at research institutes conducted studies into the effects of minimizing solar gain through the roof via a reflective surface. Based on the researchers’ algorithmic findings and recommendations (regardless of their validity), environmental groups used the concept to promote change. Large cities started introducing new energy codes with reflective roofing requirements and prescribed reflectance values. These new codes contained greater insulation requirements, which was a benefit. However, in this one code adoption, roof systems, such as coal-tar pitch, that had performed for centuries were no longer permitted. Consequently, roofing contractors went out of business and so did some roofing material manufacturers because of unproven and suspect research.

Photos and Details: Hutchinson Design Group Ltd.

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Dallas Roofing Contractor Partners with Habitat for Humanity to Repair and Replace Roofs for Deserving Homeowners

Chris Zazo, CEO of Aspenmark Roofing & Solar, Dallas, established the non-profit Roof Angels, which repairs and/or replaces up to 30 roofs per year through Habitat for Humanity’s A Brush with Kindness program.

Chris Zazo, CEO of Aspenmark Roofing & Solar, Dallas, established the non-profit Roof Angels, which repairs and/or replaces up to 30 roofs per year through Habitat for Humanity’s A Brush with Kindness program.

Chris Zazo is a CEO who sees opportunity everywhere. When he needed a corporate gift idea to give to hail-restoration customers of his commercial roofing business, Dallas-based Aspenmark Roofing & Solar, he established Hailstone Vineyards in Napa Valley, Calif., and now makes his own cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay.

While considering how to differentiate Aspenmark Roofing & Solar from its competitors in a market that has no licensing, Zazo embraced community service. “I wanted to find a way to better our industry and really take the sting off the title of ‘roofing contractor,’” he says. “We were getting asked every year by this charity and that organization to support their causes‚ which we were happy to do. Then we got involved doing the new-build roofs for Dallas Habitat for Humanity and really rallied around that organization.”

To differentiate his firm’s charitable work from its for-profit work, Zazo officially established the non-profit Roof Angels in 2013, but he couldn’t quiet his entrepreneurial spirit. He wondered how he could involve the entire roofing industry in community service. “I really wanted to put together a program for the industry,” he explains. “I wanted to get the manufacturers and distributors involved, get our employees involved and create a model in which if we took it to a national organization it could be replicated anywhere in the United States. I dug a little further and found out Habitat has a program called A Brush with Kindness, which is perfect for this idea.”

Although the homes chosen for restoration are usually small, Zazo says they often have extensive damage and four or five layers of shingles.

Although the homes chosen for restoration are usually small, Zazo says they often have extensive damage and four or five layers of shingles.

A Brush with Kindness is Habitat for Humanity’s home-repair program for owners who are struggling to maintain their homes. The program seeks $10,000 donations to support one family’s home repairs. “When we found out about this program, we jumped in and asked, ‘What if we [Aspenmark Roofing & Solar] took the roof off of your hands?’” Zazo recalls. “The roof is usually about 50 to 70 percent of the budget for the home repairs, so, without it in the budget, A Brush with Kindness could do much more to a deserving family’s home. I reached out to GAF to see if they’d donate the shingles. I called SRS Distribution to see if they’d donate the accessory items and delivery. Then all we had to do was raise money for the labor. We proposed this model to Habitat and they said, ‘We love it. When can you start?’”

FUNDRAISING

A Brush with Kindness’ representatives asked Roof Angels and its partners, Parsippany, N.J.-based GAF and McKinney, Texas-based SRS Distribution, to repair and/or replace up to 30 roofs per year. In the beginning, Zazo hadn’t thought through the fundraising part of Roof Angels, so he was often paying his crews for these roof installations out of his own pocket. He started holding Happy Hours and other small events in which he could quickly raise a few thousand dollars.

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Roofing Contractor Brings Community Together to Help Homeowners in Need

Gwen Maechling

Gwen Maechling of Professional Restoration and APEX Home Solutions rallied members of the greater St. Louis community to help a family in desperate need of a new roof.

There is an old saying that goes, “A good deed is its own reward.” Sometimes one good deed can lead to another with amazing results. This is one of those stories. In the end, members of the greater St. Louis community came together to achieve something that once looked almost impossible: helping neighbors restore their home.

The community service project was spearheaded by Gwen Maechling. Maechling has been passionate about construction since her first project, a custom home she helped build in the St. Louis area when she was just 20 years old. “I was out there every single second during construction,” she recalls. “It was so exciting. It was different than any job I’d ever done. It just lit a fire in me. I’d been searching for that passion, and I found it.”

She later moved to Florida, earned her real-estate license and worked on several residential development projects. When she returned to the St. Louis area, she took a job selling residential roofing, siding and gutters for a company specializing in storm restoration work. She now manages production and sales training for another storm restoration company, Professional Restoration in St. Charles, Mo. She also is the owner and founder of St. Louis-based APEX Home Solutions, which handles residential roofing and remodeling projects.

A CHANCE ENCOUNTER

Maechling has overseen so many roofing projects in Glendale, Mo., that one realtor jokingly refers to it as “Gwendale.” In February 2014, she was working on a roofing project there and saw an elderly couple taking advantage of a break in the winter weather to rake leaves. She noticed the gutters were overflowing with leaves and debris, and she brought over a ladder and offered to clean the gutters out.

AFTER: Professional Restoration donated the labor to install the new roofing and siding.

AFTER: Professional Restoration donated the labor to install the new roofing and siding.

As she spoke with the couple, Charles and Jennie Blank, she realized they were both hearing impaired. At first, communicating was a bit difficult, but Maechling realized they could read lips very well, and they indicated they did not want any help. Maechling persisted, and while cleaning the gutters she noticed the home was in need of several repairs. The roof was old and leaking in several places, and the soffits, fascia board and window sills were rotting. The old three-tab shingles and siding showed evidence of extensive hail damage. “It was one of the worst homes I’ve seen,” she remembers.

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